If anyone still thinks this doesn't affect the campaign's ability to take on McCain on foreign policy and the military, I have some Florida real estate to sell you.
Wes Clark was certainly on the short list for VP and the cabinet, I think that's a very serious long shot now. It's a shame.
Update: A visibly angry Andrea Mitchell cornered Clark on this issue today quoting a blogger's statement about McCain in the Politico as proof that this is a coordinated attack on McCain --- and suggesting that the campaign is saying that McCain was a traitor. She came right out and asked if this has destroyed his chances of becoming VP.
Update II: Paul Waldman discusses the fact that McCain has successfully exploited his POW status for years with the willing help of his fans in the media. They go so far as to pretend he "never mentions" it, even though it's pretty much defines the man:
For years, we've watched as reporters have dropped the fact that McCain was a POW into their stories, apropos of nothing, as if it were merely part of his name... John McCain, who was a POW in Vietnam, visited a farm to discuss the dairy industry. I kid, but it seems that any criticism of McCain's character is greeted with "But he was a POW!" When Howard Dean called McCain an "opportunist" back in April, Chris Wallace of Fox News indignantly asked Sen. John Kerry, "Do you think John McCain was an opportunist when he refused to take early release from a North Vietnamese prison camp?" Just last week, The Washington Post's Richard Cohen wrote that though McCain has flip-flopped on immigration, taxes, and a host of other issues, it's really OK, because "we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over."
So when Gen. Clark, or anyone else, says that the fact that McCain suffered as a POW forty years ago is really neither here nor there when it comes to what the next president will be faced with, it's no surprise that McCain's fanboys in the media react with such high dudgeon. After all, to suggest that the POW story is only one piece of McCain's biography, and not the be-all-end-all on which the next president should be chosen, is as much an indictment of the press as it is of McCain.
Brian Williams: You know what I thought was unsaid ---they took their position Chris, we're seeing the replay --- they end up in this spot and the sun is coming is just from the side and there in the shadow is John McCain's buckled, concave shoulder. It's a part of his body the suit doesn't fill out because of his war injuries. Again you wouldn't spot it unless you knew to look for it. He doesn't give the same full chested profile as the president standing next to him. Talk about a warrior... Chris Matthews: You know, when he was a prisoner all those years, as you know, in isolation from his fellows, I do believe, uhm, and machiavelli had this right --- it's not sentimental, it's factual --- the more you give to something, the more you become committed to it. That's true of marriage and children and everything we've committed to in our lives. He committed to his country over there. He made an investment in America, alone in that cell, when he was being tortured and afraid of being put to death at any moment -- and turning down a chance to come home.
Those are non-political facts which I think do work for him. When it gets close this November, which I do believe, and you likely agree, will be a very close contest between him and whoever wins the Democratic fight. And I think people will look at that fact, that here's a man who has invested deeply, and physically and personally in his country.
Williams: Absolutely, Couldn't agree more. Of course the son of a Navy Admiral, a product of Annapolis who couldn't wait to become a Navy aviator...